Rafting for First-Timers

What you need to know about Ohiopyle rafting as a beginner or first timer!

Rafting for Beginners on Ohiopyle’s Youghiogheny River

Not all rafting has to be a stomach-dropping high adventure. White water rafting can be intimidating and for a novice rafter, just the terms and classifications can be overwhelming. Rafting is an amazing adventure for everyone, not just for those seeking adrenaline rushes.


The best place to start rafting is on a mild section of a river to ease into the experience. On the Youghiogheny River located in Ohiopyle, PA in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and only an hour south of Pittsburgh, you’ll find two great choices of easy rafting trips for first-time rafters. 


Who is a First time or Beginner Rafter?
  • You have never been rafting.
  • You have only rafted a few times.
  • You might be a little anxious – it looks like fun but you’re not quite sure you’re up for it.
  • You have small kids (under 8).
  • You have elders with you who want a mild rafting trip or easy-going river trip.

Ease into Rafting with a Float (and occasional paddle) on the Middle Yough!

The Middle Yough river section is perfect for first-time rafters. On this calm, easy-going stretch of river at normal water levels you can expect some splashy water, but no large whitewater rapids. Plan for a relaxing day as you float down the river, dropping in for an occasional swim and taking in the sights.


Middle Yough Rafting Trips for Beginner Rafters

Guided Assisted-
You will not have a guide in your boat but the guides will be nearby to help direct you through the current and down the river. They’ll take care of lunch and answer questions about Ohiopyle State Park and the area


this self-guided trip allows you to rent rafts and take your time rafting on your own. Stop as often as you want, pack the fishing rods or water toys and enjoy the day. You’re on your own for lunch but the Falls City Pub is nearby with a delicious menu!

Fun Rafting for the Novice on the Lower Yough!

The Lower Yough is 7.5 miles of whitewater rapids. It is considered a drop & pool river: the rapids are separated by calm deep pools, allowing you to catch your breath and enjoy the scenery. This section of the river is great for the inexperienced rafter but is still enjoyed by those that have been before. The water is moving more than it is on the Middle Yough so plan to get wet and have a blast! 


Lower Yough Rafting Trips for the First-Time Rafters

Guided Assisted-
This means you will be captain of your own raft. River guides are in rafts and kayaks around you to explain how to navigate the rapids. They’ll take care of lunch and answer questions about Ohiopyle State Park and the area


This is where you have a guide in your boat during the trip. As a first time rafter on the Lower Yough you might feel more comfortable with this option and enjoy the added confidence of a professional guide helping you navigate the rapids.

Trip Details:

  • After you’ve checked in, we will suit you up with your lifejacket. Then we’ll transport you to the launch area on the river. Once you have been introduced to your craft and given a paddle, your river guide will give a safety talk and rafting orientation.
  • The trip is run 3-5 hours on the water depending on water levels and trip size. The entire experience will take 4-6 hours.
  • The trip runs in 4-6 person sized rafts but can be upgraded to duck, canoe or shredder.

Still Unsure Which is the Best Option for Your First Time Rafting Experience?

The Middle Yough is a calm float. Best for those that have never been rafting before, might be a little anxious, or have kids under 12 or elders joining them. It’s a relaxing, easygoing trip.


The Lower Yough is actual whitewater rafting with exciting rapids. Best for those that are looking for whitewater action on the river, want to paddle, have been rafting a few times, or have kids 12 and older.


If you are still unsure call us at 800-272-4141 and we’ll help make sure you are on the right trip!

First-Time Rafting for Everyone!

The Youghiogheny River is a family-friendly introduction to white water rafting with trips for kids or the perfect weekend getaway for couples or a great adventure to enjoy with your friends. Bring your buddies and start a new tradition!


Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park Map

Ohiopyle State Park encompasses more than 20,000 acres of rugged natural beauty and serves as the gateway to the Laurel Highlands Mountains. Youghiogheny River that passes through the heart of the park. In addition to rafting, there are miles of fantastic bike riding and mountain biking and hiking.

Because the Ohiopyle State Park surrounds much of Ohiopyle, there is limited lodging in the actual town, however there are cabin rentals and camping options in the park to complete your adventure. There are also nearby lodges, B&Bs, home rentals and resorts providing a variety of choices for your getaway. 



Insider Tip!  Enjoy Falls City Pub After Your River Time
falls city pub

At the end of your amazing day in the sun, a refreshing beer* will really hit the spot. The Falls City Pub is conveniently located near the start/end point of your rafting trip on Garrett Street. Open year round, offering an extensive beer list as well as a complete menu, sandwiches, salads, vegetarian options and entrees and a kids’ menu.

*Please note, no alcohol is allowed while rafting on any trip with Wilderness Voyageurs.




Common Questions From First-Time Rafters:


Many rafters can’t swim. On all trips, Coast Guard-approved life jackets are provided and must be worn. On advanced trips, it is recommended that you have swimming skills



The Middle Yough is a calm Class I and II section of river, but with any water sport there is a possibility of getting wet.



The Middle Yough is a dam controlled river and has great water level all year. The spring can bring higher levels due to rain.


The Lower Yough is a dam controlled river and has great water level all year. The spring can bring higher levels due to rain. We are fortunate to have one of the longest rafting seasons in the country, trips are available daily from April 1 to October 31.



Helmets are not required for Middle Yough rafters. They are provided for Canoe & Duckies. Helmets are required for all other river trips except the Historical Float Trip and Cheat Narrows trip.





Still Have Questions?
Visit the
FAQ page or call 800-272-4141

“Peter provided a fantastic guided trip for my family down the Lower Yough River. High praises for him and his other peers (Isaiah was great). The guided trip allowed enjoyment and safety and we would do it 100% again if given the chance

~ Brad Franzwa- Iowa